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Training my Own Dog

Friday, 5 April, 2019 - 7:15 am

Training a dog takes time and effort.  At least that’s what I’ve heard.

No matter which pet it is, none are naturally designed to live in human homes. They require training in order to acclimate to their surroundings – especially if they will be roaming outside of a confined space.

As much as we talk about training animals, we don’t usually use that lingo when talking about people. We don’t merely train our children. We educate our youth.

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In this week’s parsha Tazria, we are taught many laws regarding ritual purity. From ritual contamination to tzaraat caused by Lashon Harah, there is plenty to discover.

I want to focus, however, not on the laws themselves – but on their placement. Taking a broader view, the Torah already discussed the laws of animals and other creatures in previous Torah portions.

Why are humans placed last?

Humans are also last in the description of Creation in the Torah.

In fact, quoting from the Midrash, Rashi offers that, “Just as man’s creation was after the creation of all animals, beasts, and birds, so too, the Torah states the laws concerning the status of man after the laws regarding animals, beasts, and birds.”

While enlightening, that just punts the question further afield. Why is man created last?

One explanation is that G-d leaves the most difficult for last. It’s very hard for a tree or an animal to ruin its purpose of existence. In fact, it’s basically impossible.

Humans, on the other hand, have a very wide bandwidth. We can soar to the highest heights. Or, we can fall to the lowest depths.

We also possess an animal inside. But, our animal is not meant to dominate our being. In fact, our mission on earth is to domesticate the animal within; to channel our animalistic drives for a higher purpose.

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As a reminder of our potential – and brittle character – the Torah puts us dead last.

We are the most pivotal members of this universe. But, we also have the most difficult time fulfilling our mission.

As we prepare for Passover, let’s remember that leaving Egypt is all about freeing ourselves from our animal within. These days that may prove more practical – and difficult – than escaping from a tyrant.

Human animals are simply more difficult to train than our non-human cohabitants.

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